THE TRADITIONAL APPROACH: GENERAL ART HISTORY/MATERIAL CULTURE QUESTIONS: "Objective" LEFT: Hall of the 1. What is my first response to the work? California Indian Ethnology at the (Later you may modify or even reject this Field Museum (1907) RIGHT: Puberty response, but begin by trying to study it.) 2. basket Made by Mrs. Sam Hughes, Pomo Where and when was the work made? Does it DEFINITION: MATERIAL CULTURE Leland reveal qualities that the critical articles Ferguson argues that material culture attribute to the culture? (Don't assume that includes all "the things that people it does; works of art have a way of eluding leave behind....all of the things easy generalizations.) 3. Where would the work people make from the physical originally have been seen? (Surely not in a world--farm tools, ceramics, houses, museum or textbook.) 4. What purpose did the furniture, toys, buttons, roads, work serve? To glorify a god? To immortalize cities." (Thomas Schlereth. Material a man? To teach? To delight? Does the work Culture Studies in America. present a likeness, or express a feeling, or Nashville: American Association for illustrate a mystery? 5. In what condition has State and Local History, 1982: 2) the work survived? Is it exactly as it left WHY STUDY MATERIAL CULTURE? Through the artist's hands, or has it been damaged, Material culture (the study of repaired, or in some way altered? What artifacts) we can learn about the evidence of change do I see? 6. What is the "belief systems--the values, ideas, title? Does it help illuminate the work? attitudes, and assumptions--of a Sometimes it is useful to ask yourself, what particular community or society, would I call the work? (Sylvan Barnet, A usually across time. As a study, Short Guide to Writing About Art . Boston: [material culture]...is based on the Little, Brown, & Co.: 21-22.) QUESTIONS OFTEN obvious premise that the existence of ASKED ABOUT POMO BASKETS: 1. What kinds of a man-made object is concrete designs were used in twined basketry as opposed evidence of presence of a human mind to coiled basketry? 2. Are consistent designs operating at the time of fabrication. found in feather basketry? In the miniatures? The common assumption underlying (Greg Sarris, "A Culture under Glass: The Pomo material culture research is that Basket" Keeping Slug Woman Alive : 53) objects made or modified by humans, consciously or unconsciously, directly or indirectly, reflect the belief patterns of individuals who made, commissioned, purchased, or used them, and, by extension, the belief patterns of the larger society of which they are a part" (Schlereth 3). A HOLISTIC APPROACH: "Participatory" QUESTIONS ONE MIGHT ASK: 1. What happened and LEFT: Joe Foley with His Collection continues to happen that allows one group of from Red Rock (1903 expedition people to discuss the artifacts of another report) RIGHT: Stuart Culin Dressed people separate from the people themselves? as a Navajo and Father Michael (Greg Sarris, "A Culture Under Glass: The Pomo Dumarest (1903 expedition report Basket" Keeping Slug Woman Alive : 53) 2. Why Field Museum) LEFT: Susan Billy am I a looking at this work of art? What do I with Elsie Allen RIGHT : Collage of hope to gain from my study? What other Baskets and Basketmaking (upper left questions does the basket ask of me? (see back Mary Benson Pomo) of this sheet) 3. How does this change the questions we ask about baskets, people, and literature?
TIPS FOR DOING A CLOSE READING OF A POEM:
A. Read the poem aloud without stopping. If you don't know a word, circle it but keep going.
B. Paraphrase the poem. I usually do this next to each stanza in the margins to make sure I am noticing how the argument builds. At the end summarize what the overall argument or message was. What is the poet trying to convince you is true or worth believing?
C. Look up any unknown words in the OED (The Oxford English Dictionary). The OED will let you know if the word had different (or multiple) connotations during that era. If you are unsure of a word or it seems to be used in an odd way, look it up, too. For American Indian poetry circle any cultural or mythological references that you don't know. Look in the index of a history or anthropological study of that tribe to determine its meaning.
D. Diction: characterize the type of language. How does it relate to the argument?
E. Speaker: who is speaking and to whom? Characterize the speaker.
F. Figures of Speech: put a * or mark by figures of speech (e.g. metaphors, simile). Spend time listing the associations of the things being compared. What do we learn from the comparison?
G. Form, Meter, and Stanza Structure: is there a standard number of lines or rhymes being used? I will give you a cheat sheet to forms next week. Once you have determined the form, you may want to look it up in the Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics in order to learn about its associations. (See the handout for Week 5 for the associations of the blues.)
A Poem for Practice:
Archaic Torso of Apollo Rainer Maria Rilke
We cannot know his legendary head
with eyes like ripening fruit. And yet his torso
is still suffused with brilliance from inside,
like a lamp, in which his gaze, now turned to low,
gleams in all its power. Otherwise
the curved breast could not dazzle you so, nor could
a smile run through the placid hips and thighs
to that dark center where procreation flared.
Otherwise this stone would seem defaced
beneath the translucent cascade of the shoulders
and would not glisten like a wild beast's fur:
would not, from all the borders of itself,
burst like a star: for here there is no place
that does not see you. You must change your life.
Alternate ending: "nothing can stop the radiance of all poems from nearly burning us to death" (Mitchell 304).
Rainer Maria Rilke, "Archaic Torso of Apollo," The Selected Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke, ed. & tr. by Stephen Mitchell. (NY: Vintage Books, 1989), p. 61.